Tag: coronavirus

COVID-19 Scams to Watch Out For

COVID-19 Scams to Watch Out For

COVID-19 scams

During these turbulent times, it’s more important than ever to help keep yourself and your family safe. Unfortunately, scammers and thieves alike will use this time to attempt to prey upon those who are vulnerable. Learn how to identify the latest COVID-19 scams with these helpful tips.

1. Social Security Benefits Are NOT Affected by COVID-19

Social security scams have been around for a long time, but many scammers are using the novel coronavirus to scare victims into divulging their personal information or giving them money. 

If you receive a letter, phone call, text message, or email from someone claiming that your social security disability benefits or your retirement benefits have been suspended or cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, this is an obvious tip-off that someone is trying to scam you.

Although SSA offices remain closed, social security payments will continue as scheduled per the Social Security Office of the Inspector General.

2. The IRS Will Not Ask For Your Payment Information

With the recent disbursement of coronavirus stimulus checks, the IRS has seen an uptick in fraudulent activity and COVID-19 scams. Scammers may contact you through phone, email, or regular mail asking for your banking information in order to process your economic impact payment. 

Please be aware that direct deposit information used to file your 2018 or 2019 taxes will most likely be used to send your coronavirus stimulus check. If direct deposit information is not available, the IRS will send you a paper check by USPS mail. The IRS will not contact you asking for this information.

The only secure way to check the status of your economic impact payment is by using the IRS Get My Payment tool. If you did not file taxes for 2018 or 2019, you can also safely update your payment information on the IRS website.

3. COVID-19 Tests Are Not Available Door-to-Door or by Mail 

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, some scammers have reportedly attempted to sell fake COVID-19 tests either over the phone, through email, or door-to-door. The scammer will usually ask the victim for their personal details, including Medicare information, in exchange for a COVID-19 test. 

The scammer can use your personal information to fraudulently bill federal health care programs or commit medical identity theft. Remember, the only way to obtain a legitimate COVID-19 test at this time is from a licensed medical provider or at an official testing center.

4. Additional Tips to Avoid Scams

In addition to the tips outlined above, there are other more general things you can do to protect yourself from potential scams. These include:

  • Don’t trust your caller ID. Scammers may use tactics like spoofing to make fraudulent phone numbers that look like they are coming from the IRS or another agency. Do not divulge personal information based on the caller ID alone. Remember, the SSA and IRS will not ask for these details over the phone.
  • If someone is asking you to wire money or purchase gift cards, this is most likely a scam. Do not engage with callers or emails asking for these kinds of transfers. Report suspected COVID-19 scams to the National Center for Disaster Fraud by calling 1-866-720-5721 or by emailing [email protected].
  • The SSA will never suspend your social security number or your bank accounts. Anyone who tries to persuade you to divulge information or pay money to avoid these suspensions is a scammer.

The best way to avoid scams is to stay informed. The more often you can recognize these scammers and frauds for what they are, the less likely you are to inadvertently compromise your personal information or benefits. 

To find out more about protecting your SSDA and retirement benefits contact the SSA office directly. If you need assistance applying for or appealing your disability claim, contact Social Security Disability Advocates USA today at 602-952-3200. You can also get in touch by using our LiveChat service, or by filling out our secure contact form.

Will I Get a Coronavirus Stimulus Check if I’m on Disability?

Will I Get a Coronavirus Stimulus Check if I’m on Disability?

coronavirus stimulus check

Economic impact payments began posting to some Americans’ bank accounts on April 13, 2020, marking the first wave of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES).

With more than 16 million Americans out of a job in just the past month, many households are eagerly awaiting their coronavirus stimulus check. The economic stimulus seems simple at first glance—as long as you make under $75,000 a year (or under $150,000 if you file taxes jointly), you’re guaranteed a $1,200 check, correct?

Unfortunately, it’s a little more complicated than that. Trying to understand whether or not you’re eligible to receive the stimulus provided by the CARES Act when you also receive social security disability benefits can be confusing. To help clear things up, Social Security Disability Advocates USA has created this helpful guide to coronavirus stimulus checks.

I’m On Disability. Will I Receive a Coronavirus Stimulus Check?

Yes, you are eligible to receive an economic impact payment even if you are receiving SSDI benefits. The only exception to this is if you receive social security disability, but are still being claimed as a dependent by someone else. Your payment may also be reduced if you have additional income that contributes to a yearly income more than $75,000. 

In addition to a standard $1,200 payment, those receiving disability benefits are eligible to receive an additional $500 for each child who is under the age of 17, provided that they live with you for more than half of the year.

Will I Receive a Payment Even Though I Didn’t File a Tax Return?

You do not need to have filed a tax return in the past two years in order to qualify for the coronavirus stimulus check. The IRS will automatically send you a payment. 

However, please note that in order to receive the $500 payment for dependent children, you will need to either file (or have filed) your taxes for 2018 or 2019. Alternatively, you can submit non-filer information to the IRS to ensure that you receive the proper payment.

Will I Receive a Paper Check or Direct Deposit?

If you are currently receiving monthly SSDI benefits, your coronavirus stimulus check will be sent to you in whatever form you receive your ongoing benefits. If your benefits automatically deposit in your bank account, your economic impact payment will also be directly deposited into the same account.

If you still receive a monthly mailed check for your disability benefits, your economic stimulus check will be mailed to the same address where you receive your SSDI check. The Social Security Administration strongly encourages SSDI recipients to sign up for direct deposit to prevent payment delays and theft. 

If you need to update or change your mailing or banking information, you can do so using your My Social Security account or by calling 1-800-772-1213.

When Will My Coronavirus Stimulus Check Arrive?

The IRS is expected to begin distributing checks electronically beginning on April 13, 2020. These payments will likely be distributed over several waves in the coming weeks. By April 17, the IRS should be debuting a new tracking tool called Get My Payment. This web portal will allow people to track when their economic stimulus check will be arriving and update their address or direct deposit information if they have not received their payment already.

The IRS is expected to begin mailing out paper checks in early May, beginning with low-income beneficiaries.

I’m Applying for Disability Benefits. Where Can I Get Help?

With recent SSA office closures, getting help with checking your SSDI application status or appealing your denial is more complicated. For the ultimate disability secrets and help with your individual case, contact our legal team at Social Security Disability Advocates USA. 

You can reach us by calling 602-952-3200, speaking with a live representative via our LiveChat feature, or by submitting the details of your case using our contact form. Contact us today to get help applying for the benefits you deserve!

This is attorney advertising. SSDA, LLC is a group of attorneys that pursues claims for Social Security Disability benefits on behalf of its clients against the Social Security Administration. SSDA, LLC is in no way a part of the Social Security Administration. Further, the information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, a representative-client relationship.
Social Security Administration Offices Close Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

Social Security Administration Offices Close Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

SSA Office Closures

This week, the Social Security Administration announced widespread SSA office closures effective March 17, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. With more than 1,200 offices essentially shuttered across the country, many disabled or elderly beneficiaries have been left wondering what will happen to their benefits, case appeals, etc. 

During these uncertain times, Social Security Disability Advocates USA would like to reassure our current, past, and prospective clients that although we intend to comply with any and all mandates regarding non-essential business closures, our legal team will be available remotely to assist our most vulnerable population whenever possible. 

If you are in need of immediate assistance regarding social security, contact the Social Security Administration directly at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

How Long Will SSA Office Closures Last?

At this time, the Social Security Administration has not specified how long its offices will remain closed, citing safety concerns affecting older Americans and people with underlying medical conditions in addition to its employees. 

Updates regarding SSA office closures can be found here.

What if I Had An Appointment At My Local SSA Office?

If you had an appointment scheduled after March 17, 2020, contact your local SSA office. Although all offices are currently closed to the public, many are still staffed by SSA employees assisting patrons over the phone and online. If your local office is not accepting calls, you can call the national number listed above.

Which Social Security Services Can Be Completed Online?

The good news for those with canceled in-office appointments is that many services related to social security can be completed online at ssa.gov/onlineservices/. These services include:

  • Applying for benefits (retirement, disability, medicare)
  • Appealing a decision
  • Checking your application status
  • Estimating retirement benefits
  • Reviewing your earnings history & statements
  • Accessing your 1099
  • Setting up direct deposit
  • Viewing proof of your benefits

What Services Are Available to the Severely Disabled?

For those whose disabilities make it impossible to access services remotely, some SSA field offices will allow in-person assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. This service will only be available to those with dire circumstances, including:

  • Reinstatement of benefits due to extreme situations
  • Assistance for those who are blind, deaf, or otherwise significantly disabled
  • Those suffering from terminal illness
  • Those with critical needs for eligibility decisions regarding Supplemental Security Income or Medicaid

Those who require these crucial in-person services must call in advance. 

Will I Continue to Receive My Benefits?

In short, the more than 69-million people who receive benefits will continue to receive their monthly payments regardless of the SSA office closures. The COVID-19 pandemic has no bearing on payments at this time, whether you receive your benefits via mail or by direct deposit. 

The Social Security Administration does recommend that those receiving payments by mail set up direct deposit online, which allows payments to be received more quickly, efficiently, and securely. It also prevents any mail delivery delays that may occur within the United States Postal Service.

Should I Be Worried About Social Security Scams?

There have unfortunately been some reports of social security scams via threatening robocalls and infectious computer malware in the midst of the pandemic. The Better Business Bureau released an advisory letting Americans know which scams to watch for during this precarious time.

Keep in mind that the Social Security Administration will never send threatening letters or emails demanding immediate payment or personal information such as your social security number.

For more on the ultimate disability secrets and information about how to get the most monthly compensation for your disability, contact Social Security Disability Advocates USA. 

Where to Get Additional Help With Your SSDI Claim

We understand that SSA office closures come during a particularly troubling time for many, especially those who rely on government assistance to pay their bills and feed their families. If you need legal assistance with your disability claim, Social Security Disability Advocates USA is here to help. Call us at 602-952-3200 to speak with an experienced social security lawyer. You can also chat online with a live representative, or submit the details of your claim using our secure contact form.

This is attorney advertising. SSDA, LLC is a group of attorneys that pursues claims for Social Security Disability benefits on behalf of its clients against the Social Security Administration. SSDA, LLC is in no way a part of the Social Security Administration. Further, the information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, a representative-client relationship.